City Awarded Federal Grant To Hire 17 Firefighters

From city Communications Director Av Harris:

Mayor Joe Ganim and Fire Chief Richard Thode announced today that the city has been awarded a $2.7 Million dollar SAFER grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund the hiring of 17 new firefighters. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants Program (SAFER) was created by FEMA to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association. Specifically, the grant awarded Bridgeport will fund the salaries of 17 out of the 24 new fire recruits for the next two years.

“The federal grant is tremendously helpful for our city and our Fire Department,” said Mayor Ganim. “The Bridgeport Fire Department has been dangerously understaffed for years and this grant will allow us to bring in a new class of badly needed recruits. Adding new firefighters will not only make our city safer, but funding more firefighters will also reduce our spending on overtime, which helps the city’s bottom line. My top priority as Mayor is strengthening public safety for all in Bridgeport and this grant is a huge boost to our efforts.”

Bridgeport Fire Chief Richard Thode said, “I am so grateful to Senator Murphy, Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Himes for helping our department access these crucial federal funds through the SAFER grant program. This grant will allow us to open the door to our new recruits and return our staffing level once again to full strength at 282 firefighters. These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day–at a moment’s notice–to protect a city of over 147,000 residents. With the addition of our new recruit class, our department will be better equipped to meet the needs of our community.”

US Senator Chris Murphy said, “Connecticut firefighters put their lives on the line to keep our families safe in times of peril. I’m proud to have helped Bridgeport receive this critical funding to put 17 well-trained first responders on the ground ready to serve the community.”

US Senator Richard Blumenthal, “I applaud this major federal investment in the safety of Bridgeport–helping residents when they are most in need. Our brave firefighters risk their lives every day to save ours, and this grant will help ensure they have the full team they need to respond quickly, safely and effectively.”

Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) said, “Nothing gives Connecticut families and communities more peace of mind than knowing that brave first responders are ready to come to our aid when we are in need. This $2.7 million dollar federal grant, allowing for the hiring of more firefighters in Bridgeport, adds to that peace of mind and allows us to provide jobs for our local heroes.”

Bridgeport’s class of 24 new fire recruits are scheduled to begin a week long orientation at the Bridgeport Fire Headquarters on August 22, 2016. The recruits start a 14-week training camp at the Connecticut State Fire Training Academy in Windsor Locks on August 29th. During this training academy, they will receive state-of-the-art instruction in fire suppression and mitigation procedures designed to meet nationally recognized standards and certifications.



  1. It sounds nice but the City and the fire department are in violation of the Federal U.S. UNIFORM GUIDELINES ON EMPLOYEE SELECTION PROCEDURES. Since the City started using CPAT there have been NO females hired, none.

    I would think US Senator Blumenthal, Senator Murphy and Congressman Jim Himes would look into the hiring practice of the Bridgeport Fire Department considering its past history in hiring before giving Bridgeport federal tax dollars that would cause more discrimination.

    A. Procedure having adverse impact constitutes discrimination unless justified.

    The use of any selection procedure which has an adverse impact on the hiring, promotion, or other employment or membership opportunities of members of any race, sex, or ethnic group will be considered to be discriminatory and inconsistent with these guidelines, unless the procedure has been validated in accordance with these guidelines, or the provisions of section 6 of this part are satisfied.

    B. Consideration of suitable alternative selection procedures.

    Where two or more selection procedures are available which serve the user’s legitimate interest in efficient and trustworthy workmanship, and which are substantially equally valid for a given purpose, the user should use the procedure which has been demonstrated to have the lesser adverse impact. Accordingly, whenever a validity study is called for by these guidelines, the user should include, as a part of the validity study, an investigation of suitable alternative selection procedures and suitable alternative methods of using the selection procedure which have as little adverse impact as possible, to determine the appropriateness of using or validating them in accord with these guidelines.

    This started under Bill Finch and continues under Mayor Ganim and David Dunn and Fire Chief Rooney and they all knew what the hiring process in using CPAT.

    See you in court.

  2. Joe, don’t pat yourself on the back or act like this is some new stuff or this is out of the ordinary. The fact is the BFD has been hiring firefighters using the SAFER Grants for over a decade.

    Like Ron said, the city has been in violation of the Uniform Guidelines with the last three classes of new hires. We told Joe this prior to the last exam and he completely blew it off like the hiring of women is just an afterthought. Bridgeport has hired women in every class for the last 30 years until this current class and the two prior to this one. Joe, you haven’t done diddly squat so cut out your self-aggrandizing bullshit because this is much ado about nothing. Go get your sorry-ass Director of Public Safety and ask him if what we are saying is correct, after he Googles the Uniform Guidelines.

  3. Let me add that Blumenthal, Himes and Murphy had absolutely nothing to do with Bridgeport receiving this SAFER Grant. It’s an application process based on need and almost every paid department in the country receives grant money to hire firefighters. Don’t pat these fools on the back for something they had nothing to do with, instead they should be concerned Federal money is being used to discriminate against women.

    1. Don, these Three Stooges, “Moe, Larry and Curly” want the voters of Bridgeport to think they were deeply involve because they need the votes of the largest city in the state but what they are going to do is get caught up in a federal lawsuit where the Justice Department will have to come in because federal funding is being used to deny women from becoming firefighters.

  4. “created by FEMA to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.”

    In deference to Ron, Donald and Andy with their fire fighting training, experience and focus, I am only going to touch the fiscal side of this issue. Since they have said the “SAFER grants have been around for more than a decade” why has the City allowed attrition causing use of overtime in excess of budgeting for several years now? Is it because allowing firefighter numbers to decrease will allow that pension enhancement effect through the State of CT pension system, not previously enjoyed with fairly funded City Plan B pensions?
    Are these grant-funded firefighters shown in the monthly financial reports even though the revenues come from grants? (The City generally ignores informing taxpayers about grant revenues, how many employees are included, in what departments over what time lines, etc.)
    How many vacancies in the Fire Dept? How many personnel are ready to retire, or able to? As others have already said, what is the big deal? Isn’t it more important to report the City year-end fiscal status that has been available, but unreported for two weeks now? (Likely in the range of a $3.5 Million deficit, that may reduce “City fund balance” below $10 Million!!!)

    “The purpose of the Undesignated Fund Balance Policy is to maintain a balance of funds within the total unreserved, undesignated fund balance to be available for unforeseen contingencies … the sum of all components identified for the undesignated fund balance level will be set at no less than 8.00% of annual operating expenditures.” This info is taken directly from the FY 2016-17 Proposed General Fund Budget book. With a final sum of $552 Million budget the fund balance ought BY OUR OWN POLICY to be around $44 Million. You have to return to the days when the Financial Review Board departed to find such a healthy number and it was relative to a smaller approved budget. Legislators find it too difficult to understand fiscal matters and that makes budget cutting unlikely. But this year we have a semi-official budget deficit for the year closed June 30,2016, a reduction of City fund balance will follow, the City balance sheet is in the red and will stay there indefinitely because the Ganim2 group has not made attention a priority, and we wonder why people are commenting on the possibility of bankruptcy? CT Post, which reporter is on vacation on this assignment? Time will tell.

    1. JML, some of the information you mention is in the fire department’s annual report the fire chief has. The fire department’s monthly organizational chart shows each position in the department and what positions are vacant and what are the total number of positions that are filled.

  5. Ron,
    Can you secure a copy of the report? Let’s meet and compare this report with what is put in the City budget to see the overlap or the divergences. Compare and contrast is the only way to get to more truth than comes out of City Hall when they bother to address the public. Perhaps they do not know how things really fit together as they do not routinely review their output for accuracy. The online approved budget I reviewed last Monday evening indicated on the Table of Organization we had two TAX ASSESSORS and no TAX COLLECTOR. That was an error by someone, and so obvious. Maybe small and not affecting anything of significance as some sloughed it off, however an official document should be accurate and error-free to the max. When it is not, like the Police Department section of the 2017 budget submitted to the Council, disrespect and confusion result. Time will tell.

    1. JML, you could make a request to the fire chief and to firefighter union IAFF Local 834. Also you can request the information from your two City Council members. Then report back on OIB what those results are. That way we all will have a clear understanding of those in power.

      1. Nice move, Ron. I ask you where to find something that is in your ballfield and you direct me to secure it. Guess you know what is there, and where there is and want me to work harder to “have a clear understanding.” But you wish to keep me at as great a distance as you enjoy from the Mayor, Tom Coble and Ralph Ford at the Firebirds picnic. It’s good you get out and around. I was kind of worried when you directed me to request info from my CC reps and then report back to OIB, you were imagining yourself an Editor in Chief? Time will tell.

  6. Ron and Don, I stopped by the the picnic at Knowlton Street today. I was meeting a friend and was very late due to a quick trip up and back to Massachusetts this morning. Don, I did not see you there and Ron I asked around for you, but people said you might have already left. I had a great dinner and chatted with friends and met a few people. What a lovely event. I would have stayed longer, but this one guy kept giving me creepy looks and it made me uncomfortable. Some white dude, he looked like a former council member. I think his name was dePara or something. Maybe next time.

  7. Hey Mary, no I didn’t make it because my nephew had the family over to meet his wife’s godmother, Telma Hopkins of Tony Orlando and Dawn fame. Joyce Vincent and Telma were doing a reunion show at the casino with Tony. I’ve never missed a cookout since its inception almost 30 years ago.

    As past President of the Firebird Society let me offer my apologies for the incident of someone making you feel uncomfortable. Our cookouts are and have always been inclusive of anyone who wants to attend and over the years we’ve never wanted anyone to think, feel or believe they weren’t welcome for any reason. Please don’t let that one incident stop you from being a part of this fun-filled event in the future.

    We’ve been having these cookouts for 27 years, free to anyone as it’s our way of giving back to the community that pays our salary and we love so dearly. I wish I had been there to see you, but family first.

    Anyway, it was good meeting you at the victory celebration for Marilyn and Ed and holla at ya boy when you get a chance.

    1. Don, Pete Spain and his lovely wife came to the cookout but I had already left. Mary, I’m sorry I missed you but I’m looking forward to meeting you and Kate Spain. The Firebird Society takes great pride with our cookouts, every Bridgeport mayor has attended, Bob Walsh, Ed Gomes, Marilyn Moore, Ernie Newton are like regular guests. I first met Maria Pereira at our cookout when Judge Carmen Lopez asked me if she could bring her and I told her no problem. Chris Caruso also would come.
      I mentioned those names because of what Don said above. Our cookouts are always free and it’s just our way of saying thank you to those we serve and anyone else from out of Bridgeport. We feel it’s important we share a part of what we make the community. Twenty-seven years for our cookout with more to come with each new group of Firebird Society members who become Bridgeport firefighters.

  8. Hi gentlemen, I’m sure we will all talk again soon. Let me say this, it was a wonderful party. Everyone was welcoming and kind. I was thrilled to see that crowd in Knowlton Park. I drive by there almost every day and it is rare to see it being used. That made me happy those tax dollars were spent. Let me correct something, dePara was not a reflection of the efforts of those at the event or those attending or organizing. To me, he has always been a strange bird and if he wants to continue in his political endeavors he need to learn for himself how to not look so shocked when a short, snow-white blonde walks into an event in Bridgeport. In any event, kids have to learn. Ron, hope to see you this week. Mr. Day, I believe I owe you a coffee. 🙂

    1. Wait a minute. Tax dollars paid for the Firebirds event? They did not rent the park from the city and pay like every other private club does? Paging JML, misuse of public tax dollars.

      1. Could it be Mary Filo was referring to the huge amounts spent by the Finch administration to purchase, remediate and make parklike certain land that is waterside, if not waterfront? Unfortunately my paging system is broken when it comes to folks I cannot identify or who would rather not associate with me. But Lennie can give you my number or email if you wish to talk. Frankly, there are a lot of people talking these days, what with taxes up, Moore and Gomes beating the DTC endorsed, and the normal uninspired behavior of too many conflicted parties. Perhaps there will be a couple of much larger “misuse of public tax dollar” issues on stage soon. Time will tell.

      2. Good evening BOE SPY,
        Earlier today, a good friend of mine shared his opinion that I should check out the comment section of this particular article. I am not sure how an article about the City of Bridgeport receiving a SAFER Grant elicited a comment regarding the funding of the 27th Annual Firebird Society Family and Friends Cookout; however, I carefully read all your comment and my response is as follows: “I am extremely confused by your comments which state that “tax dollars” were misused which would in turn mean those same “tax dollars” paid for a Firebird Society event. My first thought is where did you get this inaccurate information. I am working on another matter currently, so I will address your concerns as briefly as possible. The Firebird Society of Bridgeport, CT Inc. followed the proper procedures to obtain a permit to use the park for our annual event; this process is available to all city residents and organizations (i.e. we actually shared the park space that day with a family who was throwing a baby shower, but did not go through the proper channels. Spirit of cooperation was the theme of the day). I believe a site is “rented” when it is a for-profit event, which our cookout is not (i.e. Gathering of the Vibes or Coleman Brothers Circus and such at Seaside Park). There was not, and has never been, 1 cent of “tax dollars” used to fund any of our 27 cookouts throughout the years. We are one of the few organizations in the City that literally puts our money where our mouth is. We say we love Bridgeport and we show that through ACTION. Because of the love we have for this great city where most of us are from, were raised, have family who reside here, were educated here, and were blessed to have a career that allowed us to support our loved ones, we “chose” to give back with this annual event. It would be a slight to every active, retired, or deceased Firebird who has ever paid dues to allow your erroneous comment to not be fact checked. If you were in a leadership position and proud of your organization, which over the years has given back something in the neighborhood of $100,000-plus to celebrate the people of Bridgeport, then you “Sir/Ma’am” would also be within your right to correct the record. I hope that I was able to address each of your concerns. I pray that all is well with you and your loved ones. Have a great evening.

        Respectfully submitted,

        Darrien L. Penix
        President, Firebird Society



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